BFGoodrich says its All-Terrain T-A K02 light-truck and SUV tires are designed to provide 15% longer tread life on asphalt, twice the tread life on gravel, 10% more mud traction for those sticky situations and 19% better snow traction when the weather gets cold, compared to its predecessor, the K0 tire.
We can’t make that direct comparison but we’re going to see how they perform in several seasons of multi-faceted operation in the real world. These initial impressions are the first of three reports we’ll provide on our experience with these all-terrain tires.
We installed the big 31x10.5 R15 BFGoodrich All Terrain T-A K02s on my stock, and well-used, 2001 Jeep TJ (aka Wrangler outside Canada). My very first impression of the tires were – they’re huge. And smelly. (There is no smell like fresh rubber.) They also felt squishy, soft, malleable and relatively light for their size.
Once on the Jeep, looking at their profile, they didn’t really look all that different from the tires they replaced. In fact, the tire sizing was the same, and the knobs on the tread of the K02 also looked quite similar.
The biggest apparent difference (besides fading of the old ones) was in the sidewall of the K02, which looks more rugged. Plus, the knobby tread follows around the shoulder from the surface tread to the sidewall.
My first on-road driving experience with the tires was driving home from the installation shop – a 25 minute expressway jaunt down the Queen Elizabeth Way, at highway speed. Again, the squishy, soft, adaptability of these tires really surprised me.
They seemed to absorb the harsh inputs of the pavement below, molding to the surface rather than rebounding from it. It felt sort of like riding on air (imagine that!). It felt as though I was (or the tires were) melting into to the pavement, but in a non-sticky kind of way.
There was virtually no tire noise either – certainly not as much as I would expect. I was able to sing along to music in the cabin again!
Next, a longer trek
Ok; so the tires impressed for 25 minutes on the trip home. But how about six-plus hours on the highway, heading south?
My second on-road driving experience with the tires was a weekend trip to York, Pennsylvania for – surprise – a Jeep show. One might think that travelling for longer periods of time at highway speed in the middle of construction season, in a Jeep no less, would be a torturous ride (and some may still think that if they’re not used to Jeeps). But, for a regular Jeep driver, not with these tires.
The ride, like the tires themselves, felt soft and squishy – relatively speaking. More like driving on grass or a soft surface. The tires seem to absorb everything under them. They also maintained good grip in a torrential rain storm I encountered – no muss, no fuss.
Off-Road, On-Road, All-Day
My most telling adventure with these tires to date was on an off-road learning program taking place at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (formerly Mosport), where I spent the day providing off-road experiences for new-to-off-roading drivers.
The day was packed with both on-road and off-road driving, including venturing into some very wet and muddy terrain. Over stumps and rocks; through sand and mud; traversing grassy hills and limestone gravel paths, over and over. We did this for an entire day with a full load of passengers in the Jeep.
The tires didn’t slip, spin or slide excessively. Thy performed exceptionally well, to the point I thought I had aired them down and forgotten. But I hadn’t. The BFGoodrich All Terrain T-A K02s (again) simply absorbed the terrain they encountered.
When I first heard about the BFGoodrich All Terrain T-A K02 tire, the words tough, durable, versatile and adaptive were used to describe it. Ho-hum – the usual hype. But based on first impressions, at least, I would have to agree.
When I mentioned this recent upgrade to the Jeep to a few colleagues, I was surprised to find that many of my (pickup) truck driving friends also had K02's. Versatility confirmed.
So much for first impressions. Well see if my initial enthusiasm survives few more months and adventures, including the onset of Canadian winter. Back to you then!